Intel to introduce chip to lower DTV display costs

Intel Corporation, the semiconductor manufacturer, is joining a rush of computer manufacturers to enter the newly emerging digital television market. Intel will introduce a new technology in January that will lead to more compact and lower cost rear projection video displays.

The Intel technology could allow TV set manufacturers to make big screen rear projection sets that match or exceed the quality of flat-panel TVs at a much lower prices than current models.

Intel refused to discuss its new DTV technology, but major news organizations including the New York Times and Associated Press, reported that the DTV product initiative will be revealed at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Intel will introduce new breakthroughs in a technology called liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS. The LCoS chip uses arrays of tiny electronic shutters that can alter the amount of reflected light to create an image.

The approach contrasts with a well known competing technology from Texas Instruments, called digital light processors, or DLP. The TI approach involves a chip that has hundreds of thousands of microscopic mirrors that can tilt to reflect light.

By using tiny crystals rather mirrors, industry analysts said Intel’s technology could result in television displays that are cheaper to make, easier to improve upon, and thus more likely to deliver better picture quality at lower prices.

MEven very thin plasma TVs, which are gaining in popularity, will feel the competitive pinch from LCoS TVs, Richard Doherty, a consumer electronics industry analyst and director of research at Envisioneering Group, told the New York Times. He predicted that LCoS technology could lead to lightweight 50-inch screens for as low as $2,000 by the end of 2004 and half that price a year later.

Although Intel is not expected to enter the market for digital televisions for at least a year, Philips Electronics, the Dutch manufacturer, and several American start-up companies have already begun offering liquid crystal on silicon, or LCoS, components and televisions.

At the Consumer Electronics show, there are expected to be LCoS rear-projection sets that are only 10 inches deep and far lighter than plasma and LCD systems.

In December, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) said it expected revenue from digital television sets for the previous 12 months to surpass revenue from analog sets for the first time.

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